I can’t count the number of times I’ve sang along to “White Lightning.” Embarrassing videos exist to prove it. It’s one of my favorite country songs. Maybe one of my favorite pop songs period.
George Jones died today in Nashville, TN. He was 81 years old. If you want to read a colorful, sad, and absolutely amazing obituary, check this one out at The New York Times. Here’s just a few excerpts:
“White Lightning,” a No. 1 country hit in 1959, required 83 takes because Mr. Jones was drinking through the session. On the road, playing one-night stands, he tore up hotel rooms and got into brawls. He also began missing shows because he was too drunk to perform.
At one point his wife hid the keys to all his cars, so he drove his lawn mower into Beaumont to a liquor store — an incident he would later commemorate in a song and in music videos. They were divorced not long afterward.
In his last years, Mr. Jones found himself upholding a traditional sound that had largely disappeared from commercial country radio. “They just shut us off all together at one time,” he said in a 2012 conversation with the photographer Alan Mercer. “It’s not the right way to do these things. You just don’t take something as big as what we had and throw it away without regrets.
“They don’t care about you as a person,” he added. “They don’t even know who I am in downtown Nashville.”
Rest in peace, George.